Unfair hiring practices“What does your father do?” a teacher asked a student in the 2001 film “Friend.” The teacher implied that the student’s behavior was not exemplary because of family’s low background. Nowadays, it could be a sarcastic question to someone born with a silver spoon in their mouth, being on a track to success without competency because of their family background.
But eight out of ten companies ask these types of question to job applicants. They are required to write their parents’ occupation on their application. The Ministry of Employment and Labor and the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry surveyed HR managers at 518 companies in Korea.
The companies ask the professions, positions, academic background and even income and assets of the applicant’s parents. They are looking at the parents’ background as selection criteria. We cannot help but doubt the fairness of this hiring process. It is extremely difficult to succeed with a humble background.
What do applicants think when they see questions about parents on the application? 29-year old Lee Chang-sik is working part-time jobs and has been seeking full-time positions for two years since graduating from college. “I was boggled when I saw the questions. I couldn’t help feeling helpless as this section could determine the outcome.”
What about the parents who took on hard labor to support the family? They may feel sorry to their children when they learn that the application requires stating what their parents do. They may feel that they have ruined the future of their children.
Moreover, 95 percent of the companies surveyed asked for a date of birth, meaning that they consider age. 10 companies even ask applicants for their height, weight and place of origin. Why does this information matter when the applicants are not trying to join a hometown association or a gym?
Businesses have pointed out creating merit-based compensation systems and productivity improvement as their major challenges. But it is a contradiction that they ask applicants questions unrelated to their qualifications or competency. Instead, they should focus on internship and community service experience and qualifications for the job. Gwon Gi-seob, director of Vocational Skills Policy Bureau of the Ministry of Employment and Labor said that hiring employees based on job competency is most important to enhance corporate competitiveness and human resources development.
Asking job applicants what their parents do and where their families come from is not different from the hereditary employment some labor unions practice. Passing down economic polarization is a serious social issue. Now, no one should have disadvantage for their backgrounds.
Let’s deviate from the outdated practice. We’ve had enough. There are too many heartbroken young jobseekers and parents.
JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 25, Page 29
*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.